It appears Microsoft is starting to phase out Microsoft Points, the widely-disliked virtual currency used in their Zune and Xbox 360 ecosystem.
According to The Verge, Windows 8 users will see a credit card payment listed in real currency as the default payment option for music and movie rentals and purchases. In beta releases of the new OS, Microsoft Points were still in use, making this a very recent change.
Often referred to as Spacebucks by detractors, Microsoft Points are currently used in the Zune and Xbox 360 marketplaces for music and movie purchases as well as purchases of games, themes and other Xbox Live accouterments. The conversion rate in U.S. Dollars has always been 80MSP to $1.00 (differing, of course, in other markets), something both players and press alike have found irritating.
Windows 8 still allows Microsoft Points to be used in transactions, but no longer defaults to or requires them. As this is likely a ramp up to the debut of Windows Store, there’s no word yet on whether the change will make its way over to the Xbox 360. Microsoft has never been afraid to make large, sweeping changes to the system’s user experience, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it in a system update. At the very least, though, it’ll likely be default on whatever Microsoft ends up calling the next Xbox, currently code-named Durango.